Angel Deradoorian‘s career to date has taken her everywhere from being a member of The Dirty Projectors to singing backup for U2 and Flying Lotus, in addition to her constantly shifting instincts and aesthetics as a solo performer. Yet it’s still something of a surprise to hear a hint of a smoky stoner-rock riff at the beginning of “Red Den,” the leadoff track from her second full-length album and follow-up to 2017’s Eternal Recurrence EP. It’s not full-blown doom—nobody will mistake “Red Den” for the resin-caked malevolence of Electric Wizard—but it’s still a curious transition for the versatile singer/songwriter, one that no doubt is connected to Black Sabbath Cover Band Rehearsal, a project that’s exactly what it says it is and features Deradoorian playing the UK metal giants’ music with musicians like Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner and Krallice’s Mick Barr.
Find the Sun emphasizes a dark, primal rock sound, but there’s nothing particularly straightforward in Deradoorian she goes about it. She employs the tools of krautrock and psychedelia in pursuit of a transcendent groove and a cosmic kind of spiritualism. These 10 songs—mystical journeys titled with phrases like “Monk’s Robes,” “Mask of Yesterday” and “The Illuminator”—employ both space and a muscular, bodily repetition. Mysticism flows through all of them, and she conjures this magic with the deceptively simple act of hypnotic, lock-groove instrumentation played with human hands.
Citing influences like Can and Pharoah Sanders, Deradoorian once again uses a new album as an opportunity to explore both sonically and internally, pivoting from the meditative ambiance of her previous release in favor of something more immediate and physical. The influence of Can, in particular, is an omnipresent one; the riffs of “Red Den,” on closer listening, give way to a structure that sounds a bit more like “Sing Swan Song.” And the light swing of a beat beneath standout “Corsican Shores” is immediately reminiscent of “Oh Yeah.” There’s plenty more than pastiche happening here, however, as evident on a more oblique psych freakout like “The Illuminator,” the nine-minute, minimalist flute-driven centerpiece. And no moment feels as urgent and powerful as “It Was Me,” a pulsing vortex into swirling psychedelia, driven by its deep bassline as much as Deradoorian’s own voice. It’s one of the few moments here, in fact, where Deradoorian herself isn’t mostly obscured by effects. As she sings, “What do you want to know about meditation/What do you want to know about the brain?/I only went looking for these things/When I knew I was going insane,” it feels as much like a proper glimpse into the enigmatic artist’s inner world as it does a modern equivalent of “Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.”
Though much of Find the Sun comprises Deradoorian pursuing a path of self-awareness and psychedelic transcendence through heavier, pulsing krautrock, some of the most rewarding moments are the subtler, prettier ones. The aptly titled “Monk’s Robes” juxtaposes a vocal line that feels at times like monastic chant against an intricate and gorgeous folk backing, while “Waterlily,” the shortest track here at just over two minutes, has the otherworldly grace of Broadcast’s starkest tracks. Find the Sun isn’t an album of easy resolutions. The climactic moments to be found are subtle and arrive only after being earned via lengthy periods of searching grooves. Rather, Deradoorian offers the listener the space to explore themselves, providing a hypnotic and often quite beautiful backdrop for the journey inward.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.